We all know how it works. You buy a new PC or install the latest Windows and everything runs like a dream. Two to three years down the line, though, it’s a different story. The OS that used to boot in under thirty seconds now takes twice as long. Your PC stutters and stalls while handling basic tasks, or if you’re really unlucky freezes completely on a regular basis. Browsing the Web involves numerous pauses, while your Netflix or iPlayer streams keep cutting out. Meanwhile, your hard drive is under siege from an ever-growing array of unused apps and Internet junk. If you use your PC for business, you could be losing work and money. At home, it’s wasting your energy and time.

There are plenty of reasons why this happens, ranging from manufacturer-installed bloatware through to malware through to detritus from your Internet usage and the remnants of unwanted software. Windows itself isn’t immune to trying itself in knots over a year or two. For most of us, there are only two solutions: to spend a day backing up your files, restoring Windows and hoping for the best, or to use a powerful suite of system tools to get your PC back on track.

That’s where System Mechanic 17 comes in. iolo’s latest all-in-one PC toolkit has exactly the tools you need to restore maximum speed, power and stability. What’s more, it hits a great balance between advanced features and ease-of-use, with tools that can fix and optimise your system in just a few clicks, but everything you need for in-depth tweaking.

It actually gets to work as soon as you’re through installation, scanning your PC for security issues, Internet and Windows junk files and problems with the Windows registry, then giving you its verdict on your PC’s current condition along with a checklist of fixes. In most cases it’s wise to go with the program’s expert recommendations, click Repair Selected and let it go to work, though you can uncheck checkboxes or get more detailed information if you want. With this one step, System Mechanic should fix many of your Windows issues, cut your startup times and get your PC running at close to its original speed.

Faster starts
Why stop there, though, when System Mechanic has a wide range of other tools to deep-clean your PC, fix more persistent issues and optimise your PC even further? Let’s start with its Startup Optimiser, newly enhanced for System Mechanic 17. This looks through your PC’s startup configuration files and analyses the programs that launch or pre-load during startup, checking them against a continually updated, comprehensive database that classifies how genuinely useful each item is, the impact it has on startup times and overall performance, and the potential risks of disabling or removing it. Each item’s given a simple, community-sourced thumbs-up or thumbs-down to give you an idea whether it’s a useful or helpful app or service, or another chunk of unnecessary startup bloatware that does nothing more than slow your system down.

Plus, if you need more information, there’s no need to run your own search; System Mechanic can tell you what the app is and what it does, then give you more detailed guidance on whether you should ditch it. Armed with that information, you can set the items to stay in your startup line-up, delay loading to smooth out the boot process or drop out altogether. And by dividing items into more critical unnecessary or potentially dangerous items and the more straightforward Potentially unwanted items, it helps you prioritise your choices.

A powerwash for your PC

Startup isn’t the only thing in need of a regular clean-up, however, which is where some of System Mechanic’s other tools come into play. Beyond an All-in-One PC Cleanup to give your PC a thorough spring clean, it has individual, in-depth tools for your browsers, the registry and Windows itself, plus an Advanced Uninstaller to help you find and remove all unwanted programs – even those that don’t always play nicely with Windows’ built-in app-management controls.

Cleverly, you don’t need to keep coming back to System Mechanic just to keep your PC in working shape. It’s ActiveCare feature proactively monitors your system for you, removing junk, clearing the registry and eliminating unnecessary or risky startup programs in the background while your PC’s idle.

Privacy and security aren’t neglected, either. System Mechanic’s Privacy Shield, for example, puts the user back in control of Windows Data Sharing features, so that you can decide with a click whether to enable or disable Microsoft’s slightly creepy personal data collection and reporting features, or whether you’re happy to share wi-fi details with your contacts. The Security Optimizer tool finds and fixes Windows security vulnerabilities, while iolo’s toolkit augments your desktop Recycle Bin with a File Incinerator, permanently deleting files when you want them gone. Move up to the Pro edition, and these features are augmented with iolo’s System Shield anti-malware solution, protecting your system 24/7 and the DriveScrubber, which securely and permanently deletes all the data from a soon-to-be retired hard drive or PC. System Mechanic Pro can also help you recover files deleted accidentally, with an enhanced Search and Recover tool.

Boosting performance

Yet a good mechanic doesn’t just fix machines, but also enhances their performance. System Mechanic does this through its LiveBoost features, optimising RAM usage through its RAMjet technology and HDD/SSD performance through AcceleWrite, before squeezing the most from every last CPU core and clock cycle with its OptiCore and PowerSense enhancements. And while LiveBoost is doing this for your PC, the program’s NetBooster features are doing the same for your Internet connection, optimising your PC’s settings to ensure that you’re getting the maximum speed your router and broadband connection can support. Hopefully, that should see an end to your Netflix streaming nightmares.

Do all these optimisations actually work? Well, we installed System Mechanic 17 on an old warhorse of a laptop with a Core i5 2410M processor and 6GB of RAM, running the current release build of Windows 10. After startup optimisation we saw the painful boot times reduce by almost 30%. With all LiveBoost features enabled, its score in PC Mark 8’s Work benchmark went from 2095 to 2299; an improvement of close to 10%. What’s more, a more recent and work-ready laptop with a Core i5 6200U and 8GB of RAM felt noticeably snappier once System Mechanic 17 had done its work.

You can try and buy System Mechanic and System Mechanic Pro direct from iolo, but iolo is offering readers of TechAdvisor an exclusive voucher to get either product at a reduced price. Point your browser at System Mechanic 17 offer, and get your PC back in top form.